On Your Health

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Spring Cleaning for Your Health

22 February 2017

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Spring will be here before you know it. With the season changing, the flowers blooming and the temperatures warming, many Oklahomans will begin their spring cleaning rituals. Thoroughly cleaning your home can not only ease your peace of mind, it can be beneficial for your health. Spring is a fantastic time to do some deep cleaning to get rid of the allergens and mold that have made their way into your home throughout winter.

Banish the mold

Bathrooms, sinks, floors and kitchens can be especially prone to mold, which can give you headaches and irritate your respiratory system, so taking the time to scrub it away will be good for your health. Get rid of the mold in your home by cleaning, disinfecting and drying these surfaces, which will also help prevent mold from growing. Scrub visible mold from surfaces with your preferred cleaner and let it dry completely. The key to reducing mold is moisture control since mold likes to grow in damp environments. After your initial cleaning, keep your home’s humidity below 60 percent to help prevent mold from coming back.

Wipe the walls

First, put a sock on the end of a broomstick and use it to wipe ceiling corners, ceiling fans and the highest parts of walls (this is a great tool to clear out any spider webs). Next, use a vacuum hose to remove dust from your walls. Finally, clean surface grime, especially prevalent in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser.

Get rid of allergens

Shampoo and vacuum your carpets to get rid of allergens that are brought in from outside.

Wash your curtains to remove any dust that has collected on them. Now is also the time to wash your blinds (if possible) or wipe them down (you can use that handy sock again, this time sprinkled with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water).

Spring cleaning is also a great time to tackle pet allergens by vacuuming and washing your couches and your pet’s bed.

Wash all of your bedding, including comforters and pillows, in water as hot as possible to kill dust mites. You may want to invest in dust mite-proof covers, but don’t put those on until you’ve washed all of your bedding in hot water.

Tackle the mattress

While your bedding is in the washer, turn your attention to the mattress, which can have a build-up of dust mites, dead skin cells, sweat, mildew, dirt, oils and stains.

First, use an upholstery attachment to vacuum the mattress, starting at the top and working your way down in overlapping, narrow paths, including the sides of your mattress.

To deodorize your mattress, sprinkle it well with baking soda and rub it in with a scrub brush, so that it penetrates the mattress fabric. You may want to add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda before you sprinkle it on the mattress. Let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes and then vacuum again.

To remove stains, use a non-toxic, natural enzyme cleaner, like Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle, that chemically break down stains and odors.

Now flip the mattress and repeat!

Don’t forget to breathe

Finally, don’t forget to change your air filters. Why work so hard to get rid of all the dust around your home if your filter is more than three months old? Changing your air filters regularly will not only prolong the life of your HVAC system, it will improve the air quality in your home. Dirty air filters circulate dust mites, pollen and dust. New filters help to purify the air. Plus, they help save on electricity bills since your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to circulate air.

The outside of your home

If you are going to work outside and you have seasonal allergies, consider wearing gloves and a pollen mask. Avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands and clothes when you get back inside. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests avoiding working on your lawn and garden during midday and the afternoon hours, since that’s when pollen counts are highest.

Cleaning for your mental health

Clutter is proven to add to stress and anxiety and can also cause stress and fatigue. Tackle areas in your home that seem to collect clutter from other parts of the home. It’s a no-brainer that not being able to find things adds to stress levels. Reduce your stress by creating a system for putting things back where they belong. Removing the clutter will also help to get rid of items that collect dust on the surfaces in your home.

Other parts of your home need love, too

If you’re already cleaning out cabinets and assessing the way you store your possessions, it may be time to look at your medications, too. Have some expired? If so, it’s best to dispose of them safely at a local drop-off location. Also, if you store medication in the bathroom, it may be time to reassess, since the FDA recommends storing medicine in a cool, dry environment — bathrooms don’t always meet those qualifications. Clean out your pantry to get rid of crumbs that may have fallen on the shelves and floor. If you’re looking to improve your diet, cleaning out your pantry can help you by putting the healthiest foods front and center. You can also make an inventory of the items that you have and throw away expired food.

If nothing else, when you do a little spring cleaning around your home you’ll get your body moving. Spring cleaning is surprisingly effective at burning calories, which we all know is always great for your health!